“Do you have it in you,” asks the Indian Army. “Are you up for it,” asks India’s lone space traveller Rakesh Sharma on behalf of the Indian Air Force. Now, the National Health Mission (NHM) is set to exhort potential recruits with the line, “Discover the Hero in you”.
“HR heroes”, an advertisement campaign for recruitment in the NHM is the flagship health mission’s response to persistent vacancies at all levels. Developed in association with Ashoka University and after a lot of research, HR Heroes attempts to glamourise professional cadres working for NHM in much the same way that the Armed Forces does for new recruits. In fact, top officials associated with HR Heroes say those campaigns were a part of the research that led to conceptualisation of their campaign.
The first set of advertisements for posts of district managers in Jammu and Kashmir has just been readied. District managers are responsible for implementation of the programme and form the core of the administrative backbone of NHM along with data analysts and those handling finance.
“It takes a special kind of person to work in the remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir, near the international line of control. Someone who is passionate about taking quality medical services to those who need them most, whatever the odds. In other words, a real hero,” says the ad, several times bigger and more colourful than the usual black and white ads for recruitment in government jobs. There are also other versions featuring NHM staff — such as district manager Subhasini Tirkey of Jharkhand and Dr Saqib Hussain of Uttarakhand.
This campaign, according to additional secretary and mission director Manoj Jhalani, is to be used as a template for recruitment across NHM for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and non-medical technical professionals. In a letter to state chief secretaries, health secretaries and mission directors, Jhalani wrote, “The NHM countrywide HR Heroes campaign was initiated with the objective to attract and retain quality skilled human resource in the health system…These will also enable you to reach professionals with the right attitude along with the skills, and at the same time boost the morale of the currently engaged human resources for health (HRH).” The letter, dated June 28, asks states to customise the campaign and use it extensively in both print and online advertisements.
Vacancies at all levels have been the biggest stumbling block in NHM ever since its launch in 2005. Rural Health Statistics 2017 shows that of the 25,650 sanctioned posts of doctors, 3,027 are vacant, of the 5,624 surgeon posts, 4,866 are vacant. Of the 5,624 posts of radiologists, 3,629 are vacant. Of the 31,274 posts of pharmacists, 7,092 are vacant and of the 65,018 positions for nursing staff, 13,194 are vacant.